News Roundup

Article Published: Sep. 23, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Appalachian's atmospheric research facility dedicated Sept. 23

Appalachian State University will dedicate its AppalAIR facility Thursday, Sept. 23, at 4 p.m. The dedication will be held in the portico area behind the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center.

Guest speakers include Patrick Sheridan from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., and climate expert Dr. David Easterling, chief of the Scientific Services Division at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville.

A reception and guided tours of the facility will follow the program.

AppalAIR stands for Appalachian Atmospheric Interdisciplinary Research. Professors from Appalachian's chemistry, physics and astronomy, geography and planning and geology departments use the facility to monitor air quality and atmospheric conditions to learn their impact on the area's ecosystems and climate.

Hayes Center holds Successful Fundraiser

For its first event since suspending operations in September 2009, the Hayes Performing Arts Center in Blowing Rock held two sold-out fundraising performances of the USO Liberty Bells on Broadway. The concert was held Aug. 28 and 29 to raise funds to help the Hayes Center partly sustain its operations until its grand reopening in Summer 2011.

The fundraising event exceeded a number of projections set by the organization. After quickly selling out the initial one-night-only performance, the Hayes Center added a second public performance, which sold out in one week. In total, the Hayes Center welcomed more than 700 guests over two performances.

The generosity by both members of the local and regional communities enabled the Hayes Center to net more than $62,000, 13 percent more than initially projected. With necessary operations averaging $1,000 per day (i.e. a figure that covers only utilities, insurance and minimal staff and nothing more), the projected income was based upon the amount of funds needed to sustain daily limited operations just through December.

Several other fundraising events are under consideration for December, including the return of the USO Liberty Bells for the group's special holiday show, a holiday concert of local and area church choirs called "Make a Joyful Noise," and/or a New Year's Eve bash on the Hayes Center stage.

Due to the unexpected overage in net proceeds from the USO Liberty Bells on Broadway shows, the Hayes Center Board of Trustees voted on Sept. 16 to distribute $20,000 of those proceeds to all vendors with whom the Hayes Center holds outstanding debts. Over the next two weeks, payments will be sent to vendors equally, meaning that the Hayes Center will distribute equal percentages to all vendors and will continue to make similar payments until the amounts agreed upon by vendors are paid in full.

On the heels of the successful fundraiser is even more positive news that a member of the Blowing Rock community has come forward in a huge way to try to preserve the Hayes Performing Arts Center and its intended focus for the community and the High Country.

The potential buyer, who has requested anonymity, has authorized negotiations with the bank to purchase the facility and then enter into a friendly sale-leaseback agreement with the Hayes Center Board of Trustees at a price financially feasible for the organization. The buyer wants the venue to continue to operate as a performing arts center serving Blowing Rock and the entire High Country region.

The Hayes Performing Arts Center is located at 152 Jamie Fort Road (off U.S. 321) in Blowing Rock. For more information, call (828) 295-9627 or visit

Boone parking revenues down

A report on Saturday parking policies showed a loss of $151 in the four Saturdays since the town of Boone started a Saturday parking-enforcement plan on Aug. 28.

The town spends about $1,000 more on days when Appalachian State University has a home football game. Town manager Greg Young said there were more property owners renting private parking spaces during games, so the town wasn't seeing as many space rentals at $15 per space.

Young said there had been some requests for validation from people who weren't aware of the new policies, which allow two-hour parking in town spaces.

Boone council mulls sealant ban

The Boone Town Council discussed Tuesday a possible ban on coal tar-based pavement sealers, a response to a fish kill due to a sealant leak during the summer.

Donna Lisenby, Upper Watauga River Keeper, presented information on coal tar-based sealants used on pavement, which she said had "known toxic effects" and had been banned in a number of cities.

Town attorney Sam Furgiuele said there might be constitutional questions of restricting interstate commerce.

The council directed Furgiuele to explore legalities of the issue and a potential ban and draft a resolution to state regulatory agencies.

New River nets 'outstanding' classification

Based on its excellent water quality, the existence of outstanding fish habitat and fisheries, and the special ecological significance of rare and endangered species, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission last week classified portions of the North Fork of the New River watershed as Outstanding Resource Waters.

The supplemental designation focuses on the North Fork New River watershed from its source in Elk Knob State Park in Watauga County to where it merges with the South Fork of the New River to form the New River in Ashe County. Brook trout has been sighted in several locations in the watershed, which also contains multiple aquatic species considered significantly rare and endangered, such as the Hellbender salamander on Big Horse Creek.

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